The Dolphins slow start to the season is all too familiar with fans, and this may not be one that the team can dig themselves out of.
One of the primary keys for the Miami Dolphins heading into the season was to get off to a good start. Just one of Miami’s first six opponents this year made the playoffs last year. With the schedule on paper looking to get tougher in the second half of the season, it was vital for the Dolphins to get off to a good start in order to get back to the playoffs. So far, they look nothing like a playoff team.
As it stands, Miami sits in last place of the AFC East, and if they don’t turn things around quickly, could finish there. Some may believe that’s a bit drastic just three games in, but the Dolphins have looked awful now in back-to-back weeks. After last week’s loss to the Jets, the team decided against watching film. We’ll see whether or not they choose to watch this week’s game, but it mirrored last week’s loss.
The Dolphins have a combined six points in the last two games, both against very sub-par defenses. It could just as easily be zero points had Miami not scored a meaningless touchdown at the end of regulation against the Jets. What initially looked like a team poised to make a return to the playoffs now looks like one of the worst teams in the NFL.
The truth is, unfortunately, we’ve seen this far too often. You only have to go as far as last year. Miami started abysmal in 2016 with a 1-4 start. Their lone win over that span was an overtime victory at home against the Cleveland Browns. And if you remember, the Browns did everything to give away that game. Current place kicker Cody Parkey was the Browns kicker at the time, and missed three field goals on the day. The Dolphins escaped with the win after a Jay Ajayi touchdown in overtime.
Following a Week 5 loss to the Titans, head coach Adam Gase decided it was time to lay the hammer down. In rare mid-season form, Gase cut a bunch of players that he felt weren’t giving their all, and hurting the team. The cuts were an eye-opener to active players as well, letting them know that there were no guarantees. Miami responded by winning 9 of 11, and clinching the final playoff spot in the AFC.
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The 1-2 start is, unfortunately, familiar territory for the modern Dolphins. In fact, the last time Miami did not start the first three games with a losing record was in 2013 when they started the season 3-0. Even then, they lost four straight to quickly evaporate their winning record.
For whatever reason, Miami can’t seem to get off to fast starts, and are constantly attempting to play catch up in the second half of the season. The Dolphins have surely had an unfavorable off-season to say the least, but the dysfunction of it all, particularly the offense, is concerning. Many will point to the poor play of Jay Cutler, and for good reason, but I’m not so confident that having a healthy Ryan Tannehill would be any better. I will say, however, that Tannehill is definitely more of a leader for this team as Cutler just doesn’t seem interested at all. Whether or not that would mean more wins at the moment would be up for speculation.
The Dolphins now find themselves in familiar territory again, hosting the Titans in their real home opener. This game has to be treated like a playoff game if Miami wants to make any kind of run for the playoffs. A loss puts them at 1-3, with a really tough stretch the rest of the way. As bad as Miami has been to start seasons, they have been one of the better teams to turn things around mid-season. Let’s see if a win over Tennessee can spark a positive change. Don’t be surprised, however, if a loss leads to another roster change by Adam Gase.